There’s always some excitement when two teams from the same state begin a new series in the second half of the season, but when both teams compete in the same division, and the two sides lie within a half-game of one another for the division lead, the interest grows exponentially, giving sports fans of all kinds something exciting to be a part of. Case in point, tonight’s Game 1 clash between the National League West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers (67-55, 33-25 home) and the visiting San Francisco Giants (66-55, 31-29 away). Get set for an epic 3-game series at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California, with first pitch due just after 10:00 PM ET tonight, as the long-standing rivals duke it out with two of their top pitchers in action.
For the San Francisco Giants, losing their All-Star left fielder Melky Cabrera was a huge hit to their playoff hopes. Trading spots back and forth in the NL West with the Dodgers, and being stuck at least until 5 games into the postseason without their top hitter, San Francisco must now look to their pitching staff to carry the torch, with certainly fewer runs being generated in the final 51 games due to Cabrera’s ill-advised alleged dabbling in testosterone. Luckily for the Giants they have one of the top pitching rotations (provided a few components step-up) in the National League, but will need a little help from guys like Madison Bumgarner (13-7, 2.97 ERA), tonight’s starter for SF. Bumgarner has been simply outstanding at home this season, with a record of 8-1 over 11 starts and an ERA at 1.87, but on the road he’s been simply mediocre at 5-6 with a 4.06 ERA. Tonight he’ll try to be the spark that gets the Giants away from thinking about being outscored 19-3 the last time these two teams met, and fortunately for the Giants he’s had success against the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium, posting a 2-1 record in 3 starts, with a 2.79 ERA. He’ll certainly need to be at his best tonight considering what’s waiting in opposition, but if anything this is a great game to see what a young pitcher like Bumgarner is made of, and a litmus test to how hard the Giants can lean on their pitching staff to carry them in tough ballgames that likely will not feature much scoring.
Setting that test to AP levels tonight will be Clayton Kershaw (11-6, 2.90 ERA), the Cy Young award-winning pitcher who has started to look right about on form as the season gets to the most critical part. After a few rough starts in July, Kershaw has jumped back into top form with 4 straight victories and posting a 3-0 record with a 2.53 ERA in August. If you’re the Dodgers and need to win a game right now, this is the guy you want against your most hated rivals, especially knowing he’ll be looking to improve on a 1-2 mark in 3 starts against the Giants, despite a 1.57 ERA and a .214 opponent batting average this season. With that though comes the necessary caveat; the Dodgers must get Kershaw some run support. It’s been evident that by his ERA, and the fact that Kershaw was dominant over the Giants posting a 6-1 record with a 1.27 ERA in his 11 starts before this season, all he needs is runs, folks. Maybe even one if his last start against SF, a 5-hit shutout, says anything. Few hit well against Kershaw, and with Melky Cabrera out, a lot of pressure goes on the shoulders of Buster Posey, the only other Giants’ hitter with 10 home runs and/or 50 RBIs.
Betting Lines for the San Francisco Giants vs. Los Angeles Dodgers at WagerWeb sportsbook.
At home, Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers get -160 odds straight up, no doubt influenced by their sweep of the Giants on the road just a few weeks ago, and counting Kershaw’s record of success against them. You could be bold tonight though and still wind up with a good pick taking the Giants to win on the road behind Madison Bumgarner, as +140 odds are a great option considering the importance of this series for both teams.
Against the spread you have to like the Dodgers tonight, considering the lack of power in the Giants batting order coming into this series. Kershaw simply doesn’t give up runs in small-ball very often, and without a big stick putting one over the fences with runners on, this is going to be a run here, run there type of game for the Giants. With +160 odds on the Dodgers to cover -1 ½ runs as favorites, we’re all for it. San Francisco gets -140 odds as underdogs to stay within 1 ½ runs, but with those odds it’s simply not worth taking the chance in our opinion.
The over/under for this game is borderline laughable at 6 runs, with -115 odds going for the under pickers, and -105 odds for the overs. It’s evident by the price that more wagers are going to the underside tonight, and for very good reason. Hits will be very, very hard to come by. Take a big risk and go for a 4-3 ballgame, but you’re not likely to see that money back. There’s a great chance that one of these two pitchers will throw a gem tonight, and with both sides not noted for having strong hitting against good starting pitching, we’re still chasing the -115 odds for the under wager on total points in our last pick for this great match-up.